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Suns youngster earns Rising Star nod

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Kade Kolodjashnij of the Suns in action during the 2014 AFL round 03 match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Brisbane Lions at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast on April 05, 2014. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Kade Kolodjashnij is the round 10 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee
They (the Suns' coaching staff) just told me that you need to be able to defend if you want to play AFL footy.
Kade Kolodjashnij
A CLEAR decision to ignore the hype and a focus on improving his defensive skills helped Kade Kolodjashnij earn the round 10 NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.
 
The Gold Coast defender had been widely touted as a worthy nominee for weeks.
 
But by continuing to put the team first, Kolodjashnij has now officially been recognised as a future AFL star.
 
"I've heard about that (hype) but I didn't really think about that," he told AFL.com.au on Monday.
 
"I'm more of a team-first sort of bloke, so I was just trying to focus on playing my role for the team and that (a nomination) would come, I guess, if I was doing that."
 
That attitude is certainly working for the 18-year-old Tasmanian.
 
In his seven games, Kolodjashnij has collected 20 disposals or more four times and played in five wins.
 
His 21-disposal effort against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday earned him this week's nomination.
 

Renowned for his elite kicking, Kolodjashnij used the ball at 81 per cent efficiency in the win over the Dogs.
 
But while his laser-like disposal is one of his weapons, players need a range of strengths in the AFL.
 
And it didn't take long for Gold Coast's coaches to open Kolodjashnij's eyes when it came to defending like his career depended on it.
 
"The coaches have been really good, they've shown a lot of faith in me and that gave me a lot of confidence," said Kolodjashnij, who was the No.5 pick at last year's NAB AFL Draft.
 
"I think they always knew I was pretty good at that rebounding half-back and attacking. I always had a pretty good offensive game.
 
"But they just told me that you need to be able to defend if you want to play AFL footy.
 
"So I've been really focusing on my one-on-one defending."
 
Guy McKenna's men have placed an emphasis on defence this season and – with a 7-2 record - the results are obvious.
 
The Suns have risen to third spot and are conceding fewer points per game than last year (95 to 86).
 
But Gold Coast still has the leakiest defence of any top-eight team and a tough run in the next six weeks will shed more light on the Suns' finals credentials.
 
"The boys are stoked at the moment, we've got a lot of self-belief now and a lot of confidence winning five-straight," said Kolodjashnij, whose twin brother Jake was drafted by Geelong.
 
"I think we as a team believe we can match it with anyone now. So it's really good to be a part of it and the boys are really looking forward to the tough schedule coming up.
 
"It's going to show us where we sit when we play the good teams."

Junior club – Prospect Junior Football Club
TAC club – Tassie Mariners